Anime Blu-ray Review: Revolutionary Girl Utena Set 1

Revolutionary Girl Utena Set 1 includes the first 12 episodes of the series, which are commonly referred to as “The Student Council Saga.” This set includes both the original Japanese audio with English subtitles and the English dub.

Revolutionary Girl Utena Set 1
English Publisher: Nozomi Entertainment/Lucky Penny
Format: Blu-ray
Release Date: October 3, 2017

Utena Tenjou is the title character of Revolutionary Girl Utena. When she was eight years old, Utena was orphaned and rescued from her sadness by a mysterious prince who gives her a Rose Signet ring. The prince tells Utena that the ring will lead her to him again someday if she never loses her nobility. Young Utena is so inspired by him that she decides to become a prince herself.

The main story begins six years later, when a 14-year-old Utena begins attending Ohtori Academy. Her best friend is Wakaba, and Wakaba has a crush on Kyouichi Saionji, a boy on the Student Council. Wakaba gives Kyouichi a love letter; he thinks it’s stupid and throws it away. Later, the love letter is posted on the school wall. Utena believes that Kyouichi is responsible and angrily confronts him about it. Utena challenges him to a Kendo duel, but when he sees the Rose Signet on her hand, he accepts a real duel.

Utena has her duel with Kyouichi and wins, and in the process becomes engaged to Anthy Himemiya, the Rose Bride. Utena and Anthy move into a dorm together, but Kyouichi comes to the dorms and physically abuses Anthy for “betraying” him. He demands a rematch with Utena. Utena thinks the duels are stupid and tells Anthy that she’ll lose on purpose; however, after being disgusted by the thought of Kyouichi abusing Anthy, Utena is motivated to protect Anthy and ends up winning the rematch.

Over the first 12 episodes of the series, Utena also fights the other Student Council members one by one: Miki. Juri, Nanami, and Touga. With each duel Utena has, her relationship with Anthy strengthens.

When I first watched Revolutionary Girl Utena a little over a decade ago, I found the concept to be a little on the strange side in the early episodes; however, I was still riveted by the story and wanted to keep watching in order to find out what would happen. Watching the series for the second time, I found I had a greater appreciation for what was going on. I think this was in large part, due to the fact that I had already seen this series once before and had a better idea of what to expect. I first watched Revolutionary Girl Utena when I was first really getting my feet into anime back in the late 2000’s while I was writing for BellaOnline’s Anime section, so I hadn’t seen quite as much anime compared to where I’m at now. Having delved into anime for a little over a decade and seeing a lot more of what’s out there, I’ve gained a better appreciation for what Revolutionary Girl Utena was trying to accomplish.

The Blu-ray video for this set has 4.3/1080p High Definition, and the audio includes English and Japanese LPCM Stereo and Japanese LPCM Surround. I thought the video quality was good on this release, and I have no complaints about the audio quality.

There are several bonus features spread out throughout this set. Disc one includes a clean opening and clean ending, and they’re what you would expect. Disc two includes a 17 second TV spot for the Japanese box set, a collection of character TV spots for the Japanese remastered box set, and a collection of 30 second TV spots for the Japanese remastered box set. Unfortunately, the character TV spots only change the character who is saying a line of dialogue, so sitting through this feature for a little over two minutes made it feel repetitive. The 30 second spots only last a little over a minute, and they didn’t feel nearly as repetitive. The third disc includes a TV spot for the CD release of the opening theme song, the music video for the opening theme song, and trailers for other releases put out by Nozomi Entertainment. The music video shows the singer lip-syncing the song, intercut with various locations that appear to be in New York City. It’s definitely not a high budget music video by any means, but it’s not bad for what it is.

This Blu-ray release is worth it for fans of Revolutionary Girl Utena who want to have a Blu-ray version to include in their home anime video library.

Live-Action Akira Film Delayed Indefinitely

Entertainment news website Variety has reported that Warner Bros. has delayed its live-action Akira film indefinitely. The film was previously scheduled to begin production in Fall 2019, and its release was scheduled for May 21, 2021.

Taika Waititi was reportedly in the process of choosing the two lead roles from among Japanese actors, and the studio originally delayed the project to allow him time for the that process. However, the website noted that there may be “more creative disagreements over the project.”

Entertainment new website The Hollywood Reporter has also reported that Waititi is directing Marvel’s Thor 4 film. The production schedules for the projects are reportedly beginning to overlap. The website stated that script concerns caused a delay in the start of filming for Akira. The website’s sources are saying that while some of those concerns have been addressed, the production dates became “too close for comfort.” Sources also stated that Warner Bros. hopes to keep Waititi as director and see him continue the project after Thor 4.

Source: ANN

Anime DVD Review: Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ Collection 2

Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ Collection 2 includes the remaining episodes of the series. The only audio option is the original Japanese with English subtitles.

Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ Collection 2
English Publisher: Sunrise Inc./Right Stuf
Format: DVD
Release Date: July 5, 2016

While the first half of Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ is light-hearted and goofy, there’s a sudden tonal shift that takes place right near the beginning of the shift. It’s such a sudden shift from light-hearted to serious that it feels sloppy. Some of the comedic elements from the first half remain, but for the most part, the characters act more serious and the story starts taking on serious and darker tones. But it was laughable how the writers tried to change the villains from being over-the-top and goofy to suddenly being more serious or evil. For Mashymyre, he became “too enhanced,” and for Chara, she was “brainwashed.”

But the change in characterization wasn’t limited to just the Neo Zeon members. Two of Judau’s friends, Beecha and Mondo, also had inconsistencies in their characterizations. But of the two, Beecha’s constantly changing character was more glaring. He and Mondo didn’t take things seriously and defected to Neo Zeon at one point. When they come back, Beecha seemed to start taking things seriously, but then was back to whining and acting the way he had been prior to defecting. Of the new protagonists, Beecha and Mondo were the weakest and most annoying of them.

Since Judau is the protagonist, he goes through the “hero’s journey” and sees the most growth and development as a character. Unfortunately, with the sloppy changes in tone and not really caring about the newer characters introduced in this series, it was harder for me to appreciate the growth that Judau goes through.

After I finished watching Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ, I concluded that there were some interesting ideas and concepts for this series, but the execution for the series wasn’t terribly good overall. Honestly, I think I would have enjoyed this series more if it had been more serious from the start. Maybe for the first couple of episodes there could have been a more light-hearted tone, but then the story could have become serious much more quickly. As it is, this series ends up being a bit of a mess, which makes it harder to enjoy.

While I won’t say that Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ is necessarily bad, I honestly believe that it’s the weakest of the three Mobile Suit Gundam anime series I have seen.

When it comes to the bonus features on this release, all that’s included is a clean version of the second opening and a clean version of the second closing. Nothing too out of the ordinary here, it’s straight forward.

Like I said at the end of my review for Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ, this release is something I can only truly recommend to readers who are fans of the Mobile Suit Gundam franchise that want to have every series in their home anime video library. For more casual fans of the franchise who aren’t fans of Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ, they’re not missing out on much by not owning these releases.

Otakon Announces Naoki Yoshibe as Guest

Otakon has announced that animator Naoki Yoshibe will be a guest at their upcoming convention.

Yoshibe has directed the opening animation for anime such as JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, Hanebad!, and Gatchaman Crowds. He has also served as key animator for Attack on Titan, Inazuma Eleven, Wagnaria!!, and Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’.

Otakon will be taking place July 26-28, 2019 at Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C.

Source: ANN

Anime DVD Review: Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ Collection 1

Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ Collection 1 contains the first 22 episodes of the series. The only audio option is the original Japanese with English subtitles.

Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ Collection 1
English Publisher: Sunrise Inc./Right Stuf
Format: DVD
Release Date: June 7, 2016

Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ takes place directly after the end of Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam. However, this series focuses on a primarily new cast. Bright Noa is among a very small group of characters to carry through to this series from Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam.

The new characters are led by Judau Ashta, who is one of several teenage junk collectors whose goal is to grab the Zeta Gundam in order to make a lot of money. But Judau, along with his friends, are recruited by Bright in order to take on Haman Karn and the Neo Zeon (formerly known as Axis Zeon). Judau is a loudmouthed kid, and he’s also a Newtype who can handle the Zeta Gundam; this is a major part of the reason why he and his friends are recruited by Bright. Judau’s friends include Iino, Elle, Beecha, and Mondo. Judau’s younger sister, Leina, also comes along. Roux Louka, an A.E.U.G. recruit who joins the Argama, also becomes an important character. Haman’s forces include Mashymre Cello (a goofy commander who has the hots for Haman), Chara Soon (a female mobile suit pilot who comes across as a nymphomaniac), and Glemy Toto (who becomes obsessed with Roux Louka).

After Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam had such a serious tone to it, the tone of Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ starts out being much more light-hearted, which is a very distracting tonal shift between the two series. The first episode of this series is a “Prelude,” and it’s basically a recap episode to reiterate the story and various concepts from the previous two Mobile Suit Gundam series. If this wasn’t bad enough, though, there was also a section near the end that showed some of the scenes from the next episode, and this provided “spoilers” to the audience. Not only that, the “Prelude” also had some very cheesy quiz sections and the like, which utilized some very cringe-worthy mid-1980’s computer graphics.

Unfortunately, the tone of the first half of Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ is so light-hearted and the villains are so goofy and over-the-top that it’s hard to take them seriously. Also, it was hard to care for a lot of the new characters at first because of how they were depicted. To be honest, if I hadn’t already had the other DVD set for this series in my possession, I’m not sure that I would have bothered continuing this series. But since my husband bought me both DVD sets for Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ, I was going to see this through until the end.

When it comes to the bonus features on this release, the fifth disc includes a clean opening, and clean ending, and 48 seconds of TV spots. The clean opening and closing are what you would expect. The TV spots were all to promote the premiere of Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ. Nothing terribly spectacular, but at least the release has something in the way of bonus features.

Honestly, I can only recommend this release to readers who are fans of the Mobile Suit Gundam franchise and want to have every series in their home anime video collection. I really can’t recommend it to casual fans of Mobile Suit Gundam.

Case Closed: Episode 946 – “The Cursed Tears of Borgia (Part One)”

The episode begins with a pair of construction workers at a dried out dam, and one of them comments that the area is experiencing its worst drought in 50 years. They have discovered a car, and inside is a skeleton with a fruit knife sticking out of it. Naturally, the police are called.

It turns out the body found in the car belongs to a woman who had disappeared 40 years earlier, when she was an assistant working on a drama program and was supposed to be transporting a famous ring to a shooting location. At the time, she was accused of stealing the ring.

The woman’s granddaughter goes to Kogoro to ask for help, in the hopes that they can determine what happened to her grandmother. We learn that one of the men who discovered the body is a drinking buddy of Kogoro’s, and he learns about the knife being in the body through him (since the police didn’t release that piece of information to the media). From talking with the police, Kogoro learns that because of the condition of the car, there’s really no evidence to show what truly happened. While the knife could show she was murdered, it could also be that the woman killed herself. Kogoro says there’s nothing he can do to help.

But Conan and Ran end up taking up the case on their own. The studio where the drama was shot is in the process of being torn down, so they go there to see if they can discover anything. While there’s nothing left of the building, they run into an older gentleman who mistakes the granddaughter for her grandmother (they have an eerie resemblance, which serves as an important plot point). The gentleman worked on the production with the grandmother, and he lets them know that no one on the crew thought the grandmother was a thief. He also explains a bit about the drama and how production on it was done. An important detail is that the grandmother worked directly with the lead actress, who was the daughter of one of the sponsors who had terribly stage fright. To help calm her nerves, the grandmother taught the actress how to peel apples. The actress now lives in a nursing facility because of trauma she experienced.

Conan, Ran, and the granddaughter go to see the actress to try to talk to her. When the actress sees the granddaughter and mistakes her for her grandmother, she goes into hysterics and starts screaming out apologies. The staff ask the three of them to leave. As they leave, they encounter the professor who was hired to declare that the famous ring was legitimate and not a fake. Well, this guy apparently had the hots for the grandmother, since she was the only one who believed him when he said that the famous ring was just a legend and never existed. And since he keeps mistaking the granddaughter for her grandmother, it becomes an awkward situation talking with him.

Near the end of the episode, Kogoro goes to see his drinking buddy, because he apparently called and said he had information about the ring. But when Kogoro goes to see him, his friend doesn’t answer. In the process of going through the building, he’s caught in a fire. The episode ends with Ran getting a call from Inspector Megure informing her of what happened with Kogoro. The final shot shows the building in flames, and the audience is left wondering how Kogoro is doing.

There’s a lot to unpack here, and right now, from what we’re shown, it appears that the actress may have somehow been involved with the grandmother’s death. But at that same time, that just seems too easy and convenient. Could this professor have somehow been involved, perhaps too obsessed with either her or with the fact that the sponsors didn’t want to believe that the ring was fake? And what about this fire at Kogoro’s drinking buddy’s location? Obviously someone wanted to shut him up, or at least make sure Kogoro doesn’t try to track down the truth. But who?

I think next week’s episode is going to be quite interesting, because Conan needs to piece a lot together before he can make his deduction. As you can see from the previous paragraph, I really can’t make any guesses as to what the truth could be. I can’t wait for the next episode to find out what really happened in regards to this mystery.

Fruits Basket: Episode 15 – “I Wouldn’t Say That”

After visiting Tohru’s mother’s grave, Torhu notices that Yuki and Kyo are acting differently but she has no idea why. From the end of the previous episode, the audience has an idea of why they’re acting this way.

But Shigure suddenly enters the scene and declares that they should go to the Soma vacation home for the Golden Week holiday. Hatori accompanies the four of them. We get a comical scene of Shigure saying he decided to make the trip to avoid his editor in order to tease her, but we later learn that Shigure also had a more serious reason for wanting to take the vacation and bring Hattori along: so he won’t be around for his former girlfriend’s wedding. But this fits right in with Shigure’s character.

Meanwhile, Yuki, Kyo, and Tohru are headed to the lake, since Tohru has never been to one before. It’s an awkward trip heading to the lake, and Tohru thinks she somehow did something to offend them during the visit to the grave. But as she’s apologizing, she trips and falls. Yuki and Kyo jump to rescue her, but of course, this causes them to turn into their animal forms. But, turning back into their animal forms seemed to be what needed to be done, because the two of them start acting normally again, especially when it comes to arguing. Tohru starts laughing because this makes her happy, and the tow boys say they were acting differently because they weren’t feeling their best. Neither one can admit to Tohru yet what’s bothering them, but at least the awkwardness between these three characters is now gone.

Ayame makes an unexpected arrival at the vacation home the next day, and acts in his usual flamboyant way. Hatori gets Yuki, Kyo, and Tohru to make their trip to the lake this time so Yuki can get away from Ayame. But while the three of them are away, we get a great scene between Shigure, Hatori, and Ayame. It turns out Ayame went to Hana’s wedding and has brought a photo along, but says that Hatori should only look at it if he wants to. This proceeds into a discussion between the three of them about Hatori, Hana, and their relationship. It was nice getting to see the three of them being able to interact together without the younger characters around. It was established that these three were friends going back into high school, and this scene establishes that they’ve truly maintained that friendship all these years.

And we also learn in this episode that Hana is friends with a character we’ve seen before… Tohru, Yuki, and Kyo’s homeroom teacher. Not only that, but the teacher had once dated Shigure when they were younger. We see the teacher looking at a photo of herself and Hana at Hana’s wedding. We never see the photo that Ayame brought, but I wonder if it’s the same one.

While this was more of a character-driven episode rather than a story-driven episode, it was still interesting to watch.